"7 Ways to Help an Elderly Parent with Sundowners Syndrome Sleep Better"

"Sundowners syndrome is just one of many sleep problems older adults go through in their life. Approximately 40 million Americans are impacted by long-term, chronic sleep disorders. Whether your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s or depression, sundowners syndrome could be a disorder the elder goes through, making them restless throughout the day.

The symptoms of this condition usually occur late in the afternoon and into the evening. Not only can it cause your loved one to have trouble sleeping at night, but could also cause behavioral issues. Due to the lack of sleep family caregivers may experience because of this condition, you may want to have a home care provider assist with the caregiving role, including monitoring the elder at night. The best thing you can do for a senior with sundowners syndrome is to establish a routine. By waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, your loved one’s body will condition itself to become awake and sleepy at the same time.

Other ways you can help a senior with sundowners syndrome is by following these tips: 

1. Brighten up the room. Once it is time for the elder to awaken, open the blinds or window coverings in order to let natural light in and help him or her set their internal clock.

2. Avoid naps. As much as the senior may want a nap, having one could make it even more difficult to sleep at night. Try to refrain from letting the individual have one at all.

3. Exercise. With the doctor’s approval, daily exercise can help the elder disperse their energy during the day in order to help them sleep at night. Just make sure not to exercise too close to bedtime as this could actually keep the person awake at night.

4. Avoid caffeine. Limit the elders use of caffeine, especially in the afternoon.

5. Plan all activities during the day. When planning activities for your loved one to do, make sure they are done during the day. This will help keep the schedule open near bedtime, allowing the senior to easily transition into their nighttime routine.

6. Create a distraction. If your loved one begins to feel agitated, try to distract them with a hand massage or by simply holding their hand.

7. Use the right sounds. Calming sounds, like birds singing or ocean waves crashing, will help the elder become relaxed before going to sleep.

Sundowners syndrome can be dangerous to a person's physical and mental well-being. Try these seven ideas to help treat the elder’s condition.

Home care providers can also offer tips that can help manage an older adult's sleep more effectively."

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